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EastEnders

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox television

Contents

Introduction

EastEnders is a popular BBC television soap opera which was first broadcast on February 19, 1985. In February 1983, two years before EastEnders hit the screen, the show was nothing more than a vague idea in the mind of a handful of BBC executives, who decided that what BBC1 needed was a popular bi-weekly drama series that would attract the kind of mass audiences ITV was getting with Coronation Street.

The first people to whom David Reid, then head of series and serials, turned were Julia Smith and Tony Holland, a well established producer/script editor team who had first worked together on Z-Cars. The outline that Reid presented was vague: two episodes a week, 52 weeks a year. Smith and Holland went away scratching their heads. Why did the BBC want to fill the already-full schedules with a new soap? Little did they know just how popular it would become.

There was anxiety at first that the viewing public would not accept a new soap set in the south of England.

Smith and Holland were both Londoners — Holland was from a big East End family, but when they researched Victoria Square they found massive changes in areas they thought they knew well. However, delving further into the East End, they found exactly what they had been searching for. A real East End spirit — an inward looking quality, a distrust of strangers and authority figures, a sense of territory and community that Holland and Smith summed up as 'Hurt one of us and you hurt us all'.

The target launch date was January 1985 when BBC1 was planning a major revamp in its schedules. Julia Smith and Tony Holland has just 11 months in which to write, cast and shoot the whole thing. However, in February 1984 they didn't even have a title or a place to film. The project had a number of working titles — Square Dance, Round the Square, Round the Houses, London Pride, East 8. It was the latter that stuck (E8 is the postcode for Hackney) in the early months of creative process.

After they decided of the filming location (Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire), Smith and Holland set about creating the 24 characters needed in just 14 days. Once they decided on these they returned to London for a meeting with the BBC. Everyone was in agreement, East 8 was to be tough, violent on occasion, funny and sharp - and it would start with a bang.

Through the next few months, the set was growing rapidly at Elstree, and a composer and designer had been commissioned to create the title sequence. Simon May (music) and Alan Jeapes (visuals) created it, and it remains one of the strongest title clips in television.

The BBC1 relaunch was delayed till February 1985. The press were invited to see Elstree and meet the cast and see the lot - and stories immediately started circulating about the show, about a rivalry with ITV (who were launching their own market-based soap, Albion Market) and about the private lives of the cast. Anticipation and rumour grew in equal measure until the first transmission at 7pm on 19 February 1985. Both Holland and Smith could not watch, they both instead returned to the place where it all began. The next day viewing figures were confirmed at 17 million. The reviews were largely favourable, and viewing figures remained high. Press coverage, already intense, went into overdrive. Within weeks the headline they had all dreaded had appeared — EASTENDERS STAR IS A KILLER — setting the tone for relations between the Albert Square and the press for the next 20 years. By Christmas of 1985, the tabloids couldn't get enough of the show. 'Exclusives' about EastEnders storylines became a staple of tabloid buyers daily reading.

But the real story, of 20 years of accelerating production, of characters' highs and lows, of controversial storylines and off-screen scandals had only just begun...


Setting

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The famous street sign, Albert Square.

EastEnders is set in and around the fictional Albert Square, ostensibly located in the equally fictional London borough of Walford in London's East End. The square's design was based on the real life 'Fasset Square' in the East End, and was given the name Albert Square after the real life history of Prince Albert and the then deprived East End. The public house, the Queen Victoria was also given its name due to this. One of the key characteristics is the window twitching by any of the occupants of the pub throughout the years, they are often known to look out of the windows giving a view across the whole Square, this is especially common in dramatic storylines.

Central to the Square is the gardens, as the show at times is filmed up to six weeks in advance, the trees need to have extra leaves stuck on to appear fuller in summer when they're filmed in spring. The garden is home to Arthur's bench, which was placed there in memory of him. The bench has often coined the name 'Bench of tears', as it is often the place where characters will go and cry.

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The set early on.

There are a number of streets around Albert Square, these include: Bridge Street, Victoria Road, Victoria Square, George Street, Turpin Way and Turpin Road.

Bridge Street is the main street in to Albert Square, it is home to the market which includes the Fowlers fruit and veg stall. Businessman Ian Beale once planned to remove the market in favour of a shopping centre, much to the dislike of the residents and his family. In 2004, the residents celebrated 100 years of the market.

Bridge Street also includes many the majority of the businesses, there is a mini-supermarket named 'Minute Mart' which is currently owned by Patrick and Yolande Trueman. There is also the laundrette which is owned by Mr Papadopoulos, though he is rarely seen, Pauline Fowler and Dot Branning have worked here for many years. The laundrette is often seen as a mystery for viewers who wonder why nobody owns a washing machine, however Gary Hobbs & Minty Peterson, Ian Beale and the Miller's houses have recently been seen with washing machines.

Also in Bridge Street is the Bridge Street Cafe, which is currently owned by Ian Beale. It is understood to be given the name Bridge Street because of the rail bridge, the sounds of trains going past are often over-emphasised.

Victoria Square is home to a number of bedsits that are considered to be low-class, these are usually used when characters find themselves homeless.

The houses in George Street would seem to be a step up from the houses in Albert Square. There is also the Argee Bhajee, an Indian restaurant which the residents often eat out at.

Turpin Way has 'Beale's Wheels', a local garage owned by Ian Beale. It is best known as 'The Arches' which was bought by the Mitchell brothers when they first arrived in the Square. There is also a community centre and nearby is the playground.

In Turpin Road there is the post office, the bookies, Beale's Plaice - the local chip shop, owned by Ian Beale. The Turpin Road war memorial is also here, it pays tribute to residents of Walford who perished in the First and Second World Wars. However, in real life the memorial features names of people involved with EastEnders along with past stars.

There is also a nightclub, it was originally named 'the Market Cellar' until George Palmer bought the club and renamed it the 'Cobra Club'. When Palmer moved, he sold it to Steve Owen who renamed it 'the e20', this is the club's most famous title. It was then sold to Sharon Watts who named it 'Angie's Den'. In 2005 the club extended it's space when Johnny Allen bought the next door Snooker Club. It is currently named 'Scarlet'.

Walford has a fictional London postal district, London E20, and a fictional tube station, Walford East, which is located on the EastEnders tube map in the position normally occupied by the real Bromley-by-Bow tube station.

It is actually filmed at Borehamwood to the north-west of London.

Storylines

1980s


1985

It started with the discovery of badly beaten Reg Cox, who subsequently died in the second episode. Meanwhile, middle-aged Pauline Fowler discovered she was pregnant. There was heartbreak for cafe owner Ali Osman and his wife Sue with the cot death of their baby, Hassan. Arthur and Pauline Fowler celebrated the birth of their son Martin in July. In September, Queen Vic landlady Angie Watts, in an attempt to make her unfaithful husband Den jealous, unsuccessfully tried to seduce barman Lofty. Sharon Watts fell for Romeo Simon Wicks, school-girl Michelle Fowler then announced to best friend Sharon that she was herself pregnant but refused to name the father. In true whodunit style, pregnant Michelle Fowler, who had consistently refused to name the father of her child, arranged to meet him in secret by the canal. Millions of viewers watched as the pub's poodle Roly jumped from the car - followed by Den Watts himself, thus earning him his “Dirty Den” title.


1986

The troubled marriage of Den and Angie Watts worsened when his mistress Jan visited the Queen Vic, and in despair Angie took a near-fatal overdose. Michelle's daughter Vicki was born in May, and subsequently she jilted Lofty at the altar. Arthur had dipped into the Christmas Club money to pay for the reception and was subsequently imprisoned for 28 days. This in term, resulted in Arthur's break down - he spent whole days doing jigsaw puzzles or locked in his shed at the allotment. Later in the year Lofty and Michelle tied the knot in a quiet register office ceremony.

Throughout the year Den and Angie’s relationship became more strained. Den asked for a divorce, Angie said she was dying “Six months to live”, Den agreed to stay. They took a trip to Venice where Den had a chance meeting with Jan and Angie started drinking. Confessing to a barman that she was not really dying, Angie was overheard by Den who, in a ratings-record Christmas Day episode, demanded a divorce. Arthur Fowler smashed up the living room as his depression hit bottom.

1987

The Angie and Den saga continued with the pair operating as professional rivals. Den carried on running the Queen Vic and Angie managed the Dagmar for James Wilmott-Brown. The Walford prowler was a serious threat to the women of Walford with Sue and Sharon having narrow escapes but Pat Wicks was battered. It was also the year of EastEnders' first gay kiss with Colin and Barry, which at the time was seen as controversial. The press reacted with 'outrage' and 'fury' at this 'filth' and, for a while dubbed the show EastBenders.

Single mum Mary tried to support herself and baby Annie as she veered dangerously towards a life of prostitution because of Nick Cotton. Mary's parents took baby Annie away to live with them after Mary had left the child on her own. Later in the year, her relationship with Rod, the roadie, helped her to get Annie back.

1988

Pregnant by Lofty, Michelle had an abortion and when Lofty discovered the truth, he left her. Donna, Kathy Beale's illegitimate daughter, turned up. The result of a rape when Kathy was a teenager, Donna was rejected by Kathy and died of a heroin overdose the following year.

Kathy took up a job at the Dagmar and Wilmott Brown tried to seduce her. He later raped her, and left her to be found by Den. Den firebombed the Dagmar and this only led to Dens own downfall. He double-crossed his mafia friends and they wanted him dead, so he went on the run. He gave himself up to the police and was remanded in prison at the same time as Nick Cotton.

The big question was over the parentage of Simon Wicks. Pat couldn't give a clear answer as she didn't know whether the father of Simon was Kenny Beale or Pete Beale she also didn't rule out Den Watts as a contender.

Pat was reunited with old flame Frank Butcher and he arrived in the square with his children, Diane and Ricky leaving other daughters back in Manchester. Pat and Frank became the owners of the Vic, as Den was still awaiting trial and Angie had moved to Spain.

Lou Beale died in her sleep, and her son Pete broke down at the funeral.

1989

Unable to cope with the events in their lives, Kathy's marriage to Pete crumbled in January.

Wilmott Brown managed to convince Kathy to drop the charges, but a trial was later given and he was sent to prison for three years.

But before the trial Pete Beale wanted to kill Wilmott Brown and he drunkenly stole a car and went after him. He was charged with drink driving and given a long ban on the road.

Meanwhile Den, who had taken the blame for the Dagmar fire, awaited his fate. He managed to escape from the police on the way to his trial and arrange to meet Michelle at the canal. The Firm, who were involved in the fire, decided to silence Den for good. The hit men followed Michelle to their meeting place and after she left they shot him dead, with a gun disguised in daffodils. He was presumed dead, but no body was found at the time.

Michelle confessed that Vicky was Sharon's half sister, and this turmoil led Sharon to take up with Wicksy again.

Sue had another baby but he was snatched by Ali at the grave of their first son Hassan. Sue became deranged and was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Pat and Frank tied the knot and had a big East End do, with horse carriage and pearly kings. Frank started up the car lot, and the couple also bought the B&B and moved into the house next door.

Ian bought Alis café and became smitten with new market trader Cindy Williams. They married, but the wedding ended in tears with Ian arguing with his new wife. Best man Simon "Wicksy" Wicks knew one reason for Cindy's sorrow — she was carrying his baby.


1990s

1990

During 1990 the Butchers had to cope with the trauma of Frank's daughter, Diane, running away from home.

A body was found in the canal, presumed to be that of Den, and he later received a burial. Sharon decided to search for her real parents but they rejected her. She returned to the square devastated.

Nick tried to poison his mother, Dot, after learning that she had won money on the bingo. Dot guessed and managed to escape unharmed.

One of the main storylines of the year was the love triangle between Wicksy, Cindy and Ian. Cindy confessed to Ian that she loved another man and that Steven was not his son. In an emotional frenzy Ian crashed his van and ended up in hospital. He later discovered that Wicksy was Steven's real father. Scared of repercussions, Wicksy and Cindy left Walford with Steven and set up home elsewhere.

New faces on Albert Square in 1990 included: the Mitchells - Phil, Grant and their sister Sam, new landlord of the Queen Vic, Eddie Royle, and the Tavernier family.

1991

In a drama always willing to confront controversial issues head-on - Mark Fowler's secret was revealed, when he confessed to his girlfriend Diane that he was HIV-positive.

Ian Beale's business went from strength to strength. Michelle began a degree course at the local college and started dating Clyde Tavernier.

Grant set his sights on Sharon and so attacked Eddie Royle who also seemed to have taken a fancy to her. He tried to get back into the army, but failed the psychiatric test.

Ricky Butcher eloped to Scotland with the Mitchell brothers pretty little sister Samantha. She was just 16. Only their families found the map of Gretna Green and knew where to find them. They still got married and when back in Walford got a church blessing.

In September the brutal murder of Eddie Royle (who was stabbed to death in the middle of the Square) rocked the residents of Albert Square. Racist Nick Cotton claimed that he saw Clyde Tavernier that night standing by the body holding a knife. Clyde Tavernier was the innocent suspect but the incident paved the way for Sharon Watts to return to the Queen Vic as landlady.

Nick was not under suspicion, but he later confessed to the murder whilst cold turkey.

Clyde went on the run with Michelle Fowler, Vicky and his son Kofi. Grant was also a suspect with a motive, and no alibi. The Vic was shut down until Sharon managed to secure a license.

Grant then proposed to Sharon and they married on Boxing Day in a surprise wedding.

Frank went into partnership with Kathy and Pauline in the café and Ian started up the Meal Machine with the help of Hattie Tavernier.

1992

The year began with problems for newlyweds Sharon and Grant Mitchell. He wanted to start a family while she wanted to concentrate on running the Queen Vic.

Frank started to lose money and had to sell his merc and the B&B. Pat however started up Pat Cabs which was run from the porta cabin. Only Pat hit a local teenager and after finding out that she was over the drinking limit the girl died.

In June Mark Fowler married Gill, the day before she died of AIDS-related cancer, in scenes complemented for their sensitivity. Meanwhile, Arthur's friendship with Mrs. Hewitt continued to develop and on Christmas Eve they ended up in bed together.

During 1992 the sexual chemistry between Phil and his sister-in-law Sharon developed and eventually erupted into passion. They slept together and had to deal with the aftermath. Grant still unaware of this affair set fire to the Vic in an insurance bid, but failed and Sharon who nearly died in the fire told Grant that they were finished. Phil was prepared to risk everything and tell his brother, but, when it came to the crunch, Sharon chose Grant.

1993

The year began with the long-awaited trial of Nick Cotton for the murder of Eddie Royle. Although it was clear that Nick was responsible for stabbing Eddie, the jury's verdict was "Not Guilty."

Six months after knocking down and killing a girl in a drink driving incident, Pat Butcher was given a prison sentence. And, after a fight at the Queen Vic, Grant ended up in prison too.

Cindy and Ian got back together and at the end of the year Cindy gave birth to twins. Tragically on the day that they were born, their grandfather Pete Beale was killed in a car crash with his girlfriend Rose Chapman.

Pauline found out about Arthur's affair with Mrs. Hewitt and in the ensuing row she hit him over the head with a frying pan and threw him out - it seemed as if the Fowlers' marriage was over.

Michelle's daughter Vicky was kidnapped; only the kidnapper made the mistake of visiting a toy shop and the sales assistant had seen the appeals on TV and contacted the police.

Pete Beale got involved with old school friend Rose. Only Rose was married, but when her husband died the two decided to start a new life together. Only, a few months later the couple died in a pre-arranged car crash. Rose's husbands family was not happy with the situation and wanted vengeance.

Mandy Salter appeared in Walford, as Pat's friends daughter and was left in her care. Only Mandy went off the rails and whilst being in a relationship with Aidan Brosnan led him to contemplate suicide. She managed to stop him.

Sharon came back from a holiday in America to find the Queen Vic in a state. Grant hit Sharon and Michelle told the police and when they turned up at the Vic, Grant attacked one of them leading to an assault charge and a short stay at her majestys pleasure.

Phil and Sharon rekindled their affair whilst Grant was behind bars, only Sharon chose Grant when he returned from prison. Phil married Nadia, an immigrant looking for a green card. Only Phil then decided Kathy Beale was the woman for him.

The year ended with young lovers Mandy and Aidan homeless and in despair. New arrivals to the Square this year included Sanjay and Gita Kapoor and the Jackson family.

1994

In the year that EastEnders was aired thrice weekly, one of the happiest events was Nigel and Debs' wedding, which coincided with the 1,000th episode of the show. Both events were celebrated in style with a street party in the Square.

Mark met Ruth, a Scottish nanny, whilst visiting a friend at an AIDS clinic. They decided to marry and moved into Michelle's house.

Nigel Bates fell in love with Debbie Tyler. The couple also married and Debbie brought daughter Clare to live with them. Only Clare's father started menacing Nigel however it was not long before Grant and Phil put that right.

Sanjay Kapoor started an affair with his wife Gita's sister Meena. Sanjay was eventually forgiven but then found out his sperm count was too low to have another baby.

Pat's son David arrived in Walford. Bianca Jackson part of the newly arrived Jackson family took a shine to him, but soon found out that he was her father. Her mother Carol had slept with him at the age of fourteen.

Frank Butcher was largely in debt and he sold his share of the café to Phil. In return Phil had to torch the car lot for him in an insurance bid. Only a homeless boy sleeping in one of the cars was found dead and the police suspected arson. Frank left the Square heavily depressed and left no trace. Pat had to pick up the pieces.

Sharon had agreed to help Michelle with a university project. This involved 'Sharongate' a story which had a taped confession of Sharon's affair, which Grant found and used to publicly humiliate his wife and brother at Phil and Kathy's engagement party. The following episode attracted the highest ratings for seven years, as Grant put Phil in hospital, and when their mother came to sort things out, it was none other than Barbara Windsor.

Devastated when a vagrant was killed in a deliberate fire at the car lot and facing dire financial problems, Frank had a breakdown and disappeared. Meanwhile Pat Butcher's eldest son, David Wicks, moved into the Square.

1995

It was a new year and love was in the air. Pat reluctantly started dating car dealer Roy Evans - eventually he moved in with her. Mark Fowler and girlfriend Ruth married. Cindy cheated on Ian with David Wicks (brother of Simon "Wicksy" Wicks, and father of her son Steven).

Ricky Butcher was caught between two women - and ultimately chose Bianca over her best friend Natalie. David finally revealed himself as Bianca's father, after Bianca unwittingly tried to seduce him.

Kathy and Phil finally married and announced they were expecting. Phil's mother, Peggy, was overjoyed but Ian, Kathy's son, had difficulty coming to terms with his mother having a child so late in life.

Michelle began to pull her life together with a new job - later she was offered a position at an American university.

Tragedy struck Nigel as his new wife Debs was killed crossing the road. Her death set in motion a heartbreaking custody battle between Nigel and her ex-husband Liam over Debs' daughter, Clare. Local public money went missing and all the signs pointed toward Arthur Fowler, again. The evidence continued to mount and Arthur was sentenced to jail.

Frank Butcher returned to the Square at Christmas after recovering from his nervous breakdown. He found that Pat had re-opened the car lot with David and Ricky in charge. Pat's new man Roy was also there.

1996

The Square mourned the passing of beloved character Arthur Fowler - who died after being wrongly imprisoned on corruption charges. Following his father's death, Martin began to rebel at school.

During the year Tiffany (friend of Bianca) found an unexpected shoulder to cry on in Grant Mitchell - a union that left her pregnant with his child.

Residents had a new place to socialize as the Cobra Club opened for business. In moving scenes, Peggy faced her toughest challenge yet as she battled against breast cancer. Ian was shot by a professional hitman while walking in the Square. After wife Cindy had hired one for the job. Carol's life began to unravel as she and Alan broke up.

1997

New beginnings in Albert Square. Tiffany gave birth to Courtney and Grant found out that he was, in fact, the father. After a brief period of wedded bliss, the tempestuous twosome were again in trouble. Amid accusations of infidelity, punches were thrown as Grant attacked Tiffany, causing her to move in with Bianca.

Martin Fowler continued to get on the wrong side of the law - he broke into Carol Jackson's house and was later arrested for burglary.

Tiffany's ex-boyfriend, Tony, was attacked in a gay-bashing incident. Dot was held hostage by her son Nick's prison chum, Damion, and upon her release announced she was leaving the Square.

Romance blossomed as Bianca and Ricky married and Alan and Carol were reconciled. But all was not perfect - Kathy dumped Phil after learning of his affair with Lorna, while Barry Evans thought he had found the "real thing" with business woman, Vanessa Carlton, only to discover she was conning him out of most of the family money.

Cindy snatched two of her children, Peter and Steven. Ian went after her and, with help from Grant and Phil, snatched the kids back. Cindy returned to Walford and was charged with kidnapping.

1998

Cindy went on trial for kidnapping. She was found guilty but managed to avoid a prison sentence. Later in the year she fought Ian for custody of the children and won. Her plans to leave Walford with the children and her new boyfriend, Nick, went awry when she was charged with Ian's attempted murder. Found guilty and sentenced, Cindy died in prison while giving birth to her and Nick's child.

The di Marco family arrived in Walford and moved into George Street. The Square welcomed baby Liam to proud parents Bianca and Ricky. Peggy Mitchell and Frank Butcher got engaged, much to the annoyance of Frank's ex-wife, Pat.

Terry, Tiffany's father, won a fortune betting at the bookies and soon announced his engagement to Irene, Tony's mother, but their wedding day was marred by a surprise guest - Terry's wife.

Kathy left Phil and Walford and headed for a new life in South Africa with son Ben. A rocky on-again, off-again year for Grant and Tiffany. While Tiffany was learning how to be a masseuse, Grant slept with Tiffany's mother, Louise. Tiffany returned, found out about the affair, and turned to Beppe di Marco for comfort. Following Grant pushing Tiffany down the stairs he was ordered to stay away from Tiff and he was arrested for attempted murder. The year ended as Tiffany, attempting to leave Walford for good with daughter Courtney, fought with Grant in the street and was accidentally run over and killed by Frank Butcher.

1999

Walford began the new year still in shock over Tiffany's death.

Kathy Mitchell came back from South Africa to learn that Ian was to marry Melanie. A grieving Grant slept with Kathy. Phil, who was hoping for reconciliation with his ex-wife, could not forgive his brother. The Mitchell brothers did a "job" to recover money needed to pay off loan sharks, but the scheme went awry. In a fast and furious car chase through London's Docklands, the Mitchell brothers' getaway car landed in the river Thames and Grant was presumed dead.

Matthew was found guilty of manslaughter after being framed by nightclub owner, Steve, for the death of a crazed ex-girlfriend, Saskia.

Frank married Peggy and they announced their intent to sell the Queen Vic and retire. Frank had his hands full with his teenage daughter Janine - catching her in bed with Peggy's nephew Jamie. She soon ran away claiming she was pregnant. Irene and Terry finally married.

Carol Jackson arrived back in Walford, but happiness with her new boyfriend Dan was short-lived. A pregnant Carol discovered Dan slept with her daughter Bianca, prompting Carol to have an abortion and Bianca, with son Liam in tow, to leave Walford and a devastated Ricky.

A very-much alive Grant secretly left Walford for good with daughter Courtney, while Phil, now owner of the Queen Vic and warring with Frank and Peggy, sold his share to Dan for a paltry sum.

In a special millennium episode, Melanie married Ian in a double wedding with Barry and Natalie. During the New Year's Eve and wedding celebrations Melanie discovered Ian tricked her into marriage by lying about the illness of his child, Lucy. As the new millennium dawned, she walked out on him and their marriage.

2000s

2000

This year saw Matthew get his revenge on Steve Owen for being framed for the murder of Saskia Duncan. He daubed 'DEAD MAN WALKING' around Steve's door, blocked his toilet, strewed his path with broken glass and then captured him - tying him to a chair in the e20.

It wasn't happiness ever after for newly weds Peggy and Frank, as he realised that, after all, it was Pat he loved and not Peggy.

Sonia and Jamie were just good friends at the start of the year, but after the summer they fell in love. But earlier in the year Sonia had, had a drunken one night stand with Martin Fowler and nine months later she was giving birth in the living room - surprised by what was happening. She gave birth to a girl with the help of Big Mo, she named the girl 'Chloe' but decided to put her up for adoption.

In July, Ethel Skinner turned up unexpectedly on Pauline's doorstep. It emerged she was dying - cancer had spread to her brain. She could not bear to deteriorate into a "thing in a chair" and pleaded with Dot Cotton (now Branning) to ease her pain, when the came, by giving her morphine tablets. Dot was torn between her strong Christian principles and her love for her friend, who shamelessly played on their long friendship and, eventually, got her way as Dot committed euthanasia. This left Dot destroyed with grief and guilt - she demanded to be punished but the police would not press charges.

The Slater family were introduced in September and quickly began to dominate storylines. The Slaters were father Charlie, his adult daughters Lynne, Kat, Little Mo and the teenaged Zoe, and Charlie's mother-in-law Mo Harris and Lynne's fiance Gary Hobbs.

2001

The main storyline of 2001 was Who Shot Phil?.

There were so many people that wanted him dead at the time including - Steve Owen, Mel Owen, Ian Beale, Lisa Fowler and Dan Sullivan.

But as Phil lay wounded in the Square he saw the culprit running away, and when he got out of hospital we discovered that it was Lisa. Phil however made a truce and set up Dan instead.

However, Dan was found not guilty and upon his release took revenge by kidnapping Mel, demanding £100,000 from Phil and Steve for her return.

Little Mo Slater was the victim of domestic abuse from husband Trevor, he burnt her hand with the iron, subjected her to cruel mental torment and attacked her in the bathroom and raped her. Trevor wanted a child with her but she didn't in the situation, and when he found her birth control pills he kicked her violently in the stomach. Whilst Mo was babysitting Louise at the Fowler's household, Trevor cornered her and had another go at raping her. Mo looked for the nearest object - an iron, and ripped it from its plug and struck Trevor with it repeatedly.

Little Mo however, wasn't the only Slater sister with trouble. Zoe was planning to leave London to go and work with her Uncle Harry in Spain. But Kat was dead against the idea much to Zoe's disgust. It was then revealed that Kat was Zoe's mother and Uncle Harry was the father who had regularly been having sex with a teenage Kat. Viv, Kat's mother knew the truth but Charlie was kept in the dark - they raised Zoe as their own. The woman Zoe had called her mum was really her nan, her sister was her mum and her uncle was her great uncle and her father! Zoe fled the Square and Kat slashed her wrists.

2002

After Little Mo had hit Trevor, it later turned out he was not dead as first expected, he had in fact got up and left when she returned to the house with her sisters. Trevor went to the police on the account Little Mo attempted to murder him. Little Mo kept quiet about the rape and Trevor gave a good account of what had happened on that night. Little Mo took the stand and told the court about the hell she had gone through with her abusive spouse, however the jury were unmoved and Little Mo was sent down for eight years. Kat later managed to track down Donna (Trevor's other woman) and persuaded her to testify against Trevor. Mo was released later on in the summer after Trevor was caught red handed trying to get to Donna by the police.

On Halloween of this year, Trevor was back - he kidnapped Little Mo and baby Sean and daubed the Slater house in petrol - Little Mo ended up dropping the match which set the house on fire. Fireman Tom saved Little Mo from the house, and then went back for Trevor - only for the house to go up flames - both of them died.

Phil, Mel, Steve, Lisa and Mark were all beginning to strain. Phil had slept with Mel - Steve's wife at the end of 2001. He also wanted custody of baby Louise who Lisa (the mother) had pretended Mark Fowler was the father. It all ended when Steve and Mel planned to leave Walford forever - Steve wanted Lisa to come, to get back at Phil who would lose his daughter. But it was all delayed when Mark couldn't go because of his HIV. Steve had baby Louise in his car, as he is furiously chased by Phil Mitchell which results in Steve crashing the car. Phil saved baby Louise but Steve was stuck in the burning wreck of the car which blew up before Phil had time to go back. Lisa married Mark but then decided to begin an affair with Phil again. Mel discovered she didn't own the e20, Steve had sold it to Beppe before he died and was then arrested for drug dealing. Mel discovered she was carrying Steve's baby. Lisa confessed to her best friend Mel that she actually shot Phil - not her deceased husband Steve as she had thought. This resulted in Mel leaving the Square and starting again abroad.

Sonia and Jamie had been an on and off relationship, Ethel had told them before she died that she could feel they were meant to be together and even gave them her wedding ring. They came together again when Jamie was beaten up by Phil, and they decided they would marry. He had pawned the ring Ethel had given them to start up a business, much to the annoyance of Sonia. Just as he got the ring back - he was run over by Martin Fowler and later died in hospital, in a Christmas day episode.

2003 Peggy and Phil Mitchell left the Square. Den Watts returned from the dead. Den's secret son Dennis made his first appearance. The much-criticised Ferreiras arrived, although the character of Dan quickly disappeared.

2004 Generally regarded as the worst ever year of EastEnders to date. Den's secret wife Chrissie arrived. Den had an affair with Dennis's girlfriend Zoe, prompting both of Den's daughters to depart. Alfie's cousins Jake and Danny arrived.

2005 Dennis left the Square for several months. Chrissie murdered Den. Sharon and Dennis returned as a couple.

Background and Popularity

The show started airing on the night after a major ident change for the channel, with the show representing the "new face" of the BBC. Critics first derided the new offering, as it was clear that BBC wished to bridge the gap between the network and its competitor, ITV. One news source went as far as to accuse the channel of only having the guts to air the soap after Patricia Phoenix, England's premier soap diva, left Coronation Street.

It was the brass at BBC who had the last laugh, however, as EastEnders became wildly popular and displaced Coronation Street from the top of the ratings for the remainder of the 1980s and 1990s. In the Christmas of 1986, it attracted a massive 30.15 million viewers who tuned in to see Den Watts hand over the divorce papers to wife Angie. This remains the highest rated episode of a soap in British television history.

While the show's ratings have fallen since its initial surge in popularity, the programme continues to be largely lucrative for the BBC.

EastEnders is one of the more popular programmes on British television and used to regularly attract between 15 and 20 million viewers. Its main rival for ratings is usually Coronation Street on rival station ITV. In order to maximise ratings the BBC and ITV are usually careful to avoid scheduling clashes between their flagship soaps. In 2001 however, the soaps clashed for the first time. EastEnders won the battle with 8.4 million viewers (41% share) whilst Coronation Street lagged behind with 7.3 million viewers (36% share).

On 20 September, 2004 Louise Berridge, the then executive producer, quit following massive criticism of the show. The following day the show received its lowest ever ratings (6.2 million) when ITV scheduled an hour long episode of its usually less-popular soap, Emmerdale against it. Emmerdale was watched by 8.1 million people. However, EastEnders was at a disadvantage as Emmerdale had began half an hour earlier, and the press were reporting viewers were bored with implausible and ill thought out storylines. Kathleen Hutchison who had been the producer of hospital drama Holby City, was announced the new executive producer. And within a few weeks later the producers announced a major shake-up of the cast with the highly-criticised Ferreira family, first seen in June 2003, set to leave at the beginning of 2005. Kathleen Hutchison went on to axe Den Watts, Andy Hunter, Juley Smith and Derek Harkinson. Whilst she was there she set about reversing the previous executive producer's work, perhaps best signified by the closure of 'Angie's Den'. A night club run by the Watts family, the importance of the name was told by Pauline Fowler "Angie always said if she had a club, she'd call it 'Angie's Den'". It indicated a new and fresh start for EastEnders after declining ratings in 2004.

But in early February 2005, after just six months it was the end for Kathleen Hutchison. John Yorke who lead EastEnders through what Mal Young (the then head of BBC drama) said was one of its most successful periods in 2001, returned to the BBC as the head of drama. Meaning his responsibility was to oversee the running of EastEnders. With him he also brought long serving script writer Tony Jordan back. It is reported that the cast and crew did not get on well with Kathleen Hutchison as she had them filming up to 12am in the morning. She is also said to have torn up many of the scripts that were planned and demanded re-writes. This was one of the reasons storylines such as the 'Real Walford' football team were suddenly ignored. But through her short reign she lead EastEnders to some of its most healthy viewing figures in months.

John Yorke immediately stepped into her position until a few weeks later when Kate Harwood was announced as the new executive producer. Since then the three of them have set about returning EastEnders to its roots.

EastEnders has generally carried a reputation for hard and gritty storylines. However it has generally remained a populist series and has generally avoided the even tougher story lines and dramatic heights of Brookside, which tackled issues in a more direct way. Brookside was decommissioned in 2003 after a twenty-year run, due to declining ratings. Brookside lead the way for more conservative soaps to follow: EastEnders, whilst gritty, required the creative input of Brookside's creators such as Mal Young to maintain its ratings.

A precursor in UK soaps also set in a East End market was ATV's Market in Honey Lane between 1967 and 1969.

Viewing figures throughout the years

Missing image
Den_and_Angie.jpg
Den and Angie's relationship gripped viewers.


Ever since it began in 1985, EastEnders has achieved some of the highest audiences in British television history.

  • 15.4 million people tuned in to see Walford's first Christmas in 1985.
  • Den wanted a divorce but Angie wasn't giving up that easy, she dropped the bombshell that she had six months to live. That of course, was a lie but attracted 14 million viewers in October of 1986.
  • And in December of 1986, 30.15 million people tuned in to see Den hand Angie the famous divorce papers, this remains a record for the most amount of viewers of a soap on British television.
  • A year later 16.7 million people tuned in for the Christmas day episode of 1987.
  • In 1988, 15.8 million people watched as Michelle told Den exactly how she felt about him.
  • And 15.9 million watched 2 weeks later as Michelle aborted Lofty's baby.
  • 24 million saw Den apparently shot by a man with a bunch of daffodils by a canal in 1989.
  • In 1994, 18.4 million viewers watched the revelations of 'Sharongate' between Sharon Watts, the Mitchell brothers and Kathy Beale.
  • In 1996 17.6 million people watched as Cindy Beale hired a hitman to sort her husband, Ian Beale, out once and for all.
  • As Frank Butcher returned to watch his son, Ricky marry Bianca so did 17.8 million viewers in April of 1997.
  • 1999 saw 20.8 million people tune in to see Mel Healy marry Ian Beale.
  • However this was short lived and 2 years later in 2001, Mel was marrying Steve Owen. This was seen by 22.5 million viewers.
  • In 2000, Sonia was in for a shock as she gave birth. This attracted 19.3 million viewers.
  • Her granddad, Jim Branning also married Dot Cotton watched by 16 million people.
  • In 2002, Sonia said an emotional goodbye to her boyfriend Jamie Mitchell with 21 million people, as he died in his hospital bed.
  • 2001 saw Zoe Slater tell Kat "You can't tell me what to do, you ain't my mother" Kat replied "Yes I am" and indeed she is. 16.9 million tuned in for this.
  • September 2003 saw the return of one of the greatest soap icons, 'Dirty Den' who had been presumed dead by the residents and the viewers, 17 million of them.
  • And in February 2005, 14.34 million watched as Den was killed by wife Chrissie Watts.

EastEnders on Location

Every year EastEnders goes on location for a week so that an extra week can be filmed meanwhile back at Elstree, and thus the cast and crew can take a break at Christmas time.

  • 1985: Pauline and Arthur travel to Southend to search for wayward son Mark.
  • 1986: Den and Angie:

Venice for a second honeymoon - after Angie tells Den she has six months to live. Here he also learns she is lying.

Missing image
EastEnders_venice.jpg
Den and Angie's visit to Venice.
  • 1989: Dot Cotton, Ethel Skinner, Mo Butcher, Marge Green : Clacton
  • 1993: Pat and Frank, Sharon and Grant, Phil and Kathy: France.

Here they find Diane heavily pregnant, and Phil and Kathy got together.

  • 1995: Steve Elliott, Phil and Grant, David Wicks, Bianca and Ricky: Spain.

Here they found Sam in bed with David and dragged her back to the Square.

  • 1996: Bianca Jackson, Tiffany Raymond, Sarah Hills, Tony Hills, Dan Zapierri, Melanie Fishman: Blackpool.

Tony and Dan went to push drugs but it ended in disaster when Tony's little sister Sarah's drink was spiked, she survived. Tony and Simon also got close on the end of the pier.

  • 1997: Grant, Phil, Ian, Ros Thorne: Italy.

The mission was to find Peter and Stephen and they succeeded managing to take them back to the Square with Cindy close behind.

  • 1997: Pauline, Ian, Lucy, Ruth, Mark and Martin: Ireland.

They find Pauline's long lost sister and her family.

  • 1998: Grant, Phil, Kathy, Tiffany, Bianca, Ricky, Diane: Paris.

Grant and Tiffany bonded, Bianca found out that she was pregnant again, and Phil's' marriage ended.

  • 1998: Pat, Roy, Barry, Lenny, Huw: France Football World cup 98.

A set of one off episodes broadcast during the tournament.

  • 1999: Melanie Healy, Steve Owen, Sam Mitchell, Ricky Butcher, Mark Fowler, Mick Mc Farlene, Janine Butcher, Dr Fonseca: Brighton

The yall descended on Brighton for a Halloween Ball. Janine was found unconscious on the beach, Mel and Steve slept together but she refused to run away with him, and Ricky and Sam had to share a bedroom.

  • 2000: Terry, Irene, Pat, Frank, Peggy, Roy: Algarve

Pat and Frank sleep together, Terry leaves Irene at the resort.

  • 2001: Kat Slater, Zoe Slater, Lynne Slater, Garry Hobbs, Jamie Mitchell, Sonia Jackson, Robbie Jackson: Brighton

During this visit to the coast Garry proposed to Lynne, Zoe and Jamie slept together and Robbie found his father.

  • 2002: Peggy, Frank, Sam: Spain

Peggy travels to Spain at the news that Frank has died. She does however find that he had staged his own funeral and was alive and well. Again she managed to drag Sam back to Walford.

This was screened after it actually happened, as Phil revealed all to undercover cop, Kate. He traced Lisa and asked to see baby Louise. She was sure he intended to snatch her baby from her. Lisa drove away and Phil chased her to a cliff edge. Phil undermined her confidence in herself. He said she's an unfit mother who needs professional help. He leaves with baby Louise and Lisa in pieces.

  • 2003/2004 Barry, Janine, Paul, Zoe, Kelly, Kareena, Tariq, Mickey, Ronny, Martin, Spencer, Sonia: Scotland

After months of Janine leading Barry on, they head to Scotland to get married. But when she reveals the truth they end up scuffling and he falls over a cliff. Heartlessly, she watches him die.

Meanwhile, the others crashed their van and ended up stranded. Kelly and Zoe shared a kiss, whilst Tariq revealed Dan Ferreria is his father.

Charity involvement

Missing image
Dimensionsintime_EE1.jpg
Albert Square was swarming with aliens.


The cast and crew of EastEnders have often got involved with the BBC's Children In Need and Comic Relief.

In 1993, Dimensions in Time, a short two-part Doctor Who skit was produced for Children in Need, marking Doctor Who's 30th anniversary. Both of the episodes were filmed on the Albert Square set and used characters from the show.

The cast included, Wendy Richard as Pauline Fowler, Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts, Steve McFadden as Phil Mitchell and Ross Kemp as Grant Mitchell.

Missing image
Thriller_EastEnders.jpg
Natalie and Barry Evans in costume.

In 2002, the cast performed Michael Jackson's Thriller, with Shaun Williamson taking the lead role. At the end of the spoof, Leslie Grantham (Den Watts) was seen coming out of the Queen Victoria pub, at the time it was thought he was dead but just a year later he returned for real.

Scheduling

For the past 20 years, EastEnders has remained at the center of BBC1's primetime schedule. There are currently four episodes per week (five including the omnibus) on British television. These are the following dates and times: Monday at 8:00 PM, Tuesday at 7:30 PM, Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday at 8:00 PM and the omnibus on Sunday at 1:30 PM.

Originally EastEnders was shown twice weekly, this then increased to thrice after Coronation Street added an extra episode - in response to competition from EastEnders. EastEnders then added its fourth episode (shown on Friday's) on August 10th 2001. This caused some controversy as it clashed with Coronation Street, which at the time, was moved to 8.00PM to make way for an hour long episode of rural soap Emmerdale at 7.00PM. The move immediately provoked an angry response from ITV insiders, who argued that the BBC's last-minute move - only revealed at 3.30pm on the day - broke an unwritten scheduling rule that the two flagship soaps would not be put directly against each other. In this first head-to-head battle, EastEnders claimed victory over its rival.

In 1998, EastEnders Revealed was launched on BBC Choice (now BBC3), the show takes a look behind the scenes of the show and investigates particular places, characters or families within EastEnders. EastEnders Revealed is the only BBC Choice programme to last the entire life of the channel and is still running on BBC3.

In early 2003 - viewers could watch episodes of EastEnders on digital channel BBC3 before they were broadcast on BBC1. This was to coincide with the relaunch of the channel and helped BBC3 break the one million viewers for the first time with 1,030,000 million who watched to see Mark Fowler's departure.

EastEnders is usually repeated on BBC Three at 10:00 PM and old reruns can often be seen on UKTV Gold.

As part of the BBC's digital push, 'EastEnders Xtra' was introduced in 2005. The show is presented by Angelica Bell and available to digital viewers by pressing the red button at 8.30PM on Monday nights. The series goes behind the scenes of the show and talks to some of the cast members. The current series has now finished.

International screenings

It is aired around the world in many English-speaking countries, including New Zealand and Canada. The show aired in the United States until BBC America ceased telecasts of the serial in 2003, amidst fan protests. In June, 2004, the Dish Satellite Network picked up the serial, airing episodes starting at the point where BBC America had ceased broadcasting them, offering the serial as a Pay-per-View item. Dish first broadcast two weeks' worth of shows each week to get caught up. In approximately February, 2005, the programming reached the point of being one month behind the new shows being aired in the UK. At that point, Dish stopped its double-helping schedule, and now maintains the schedule of airing the new shows consistently one month behind the UK schedule. Episodes from prior years are still shown on various PBS stations in the US. The series was screened in Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1987 until the early 1990s. Currently the series is seen in Australia only on cable TV's UK.TV. EastEnders is also shown on BBC Prime.


DVDs and Videos

Missing image
Eastenders_DVD_vid.gif
EastEnders DVDs & Videos

Individual DVDs

Individual Videos

  • EastEnders - The Queen Vic

Includes a specially filmed introduction from Den Watts.

All the Den & Angie moments, including their second honeymoon and final scenes.

  • EastEnders - The Mitchells - Naked Truths (1998)

This video looks back at 15 years in Albert Square showing the ups and downs of the residents. It includes: Den Serving Angie with divorce papers, Grant finding out about Sharon and Phil, Tiffany's death and funeral, Carol confronting Bianca over her relationship with Dan and more.

Trivia

  • Between 2001 and 2002, EastEnders was the 10th most searched-for TV show on the Internet.
  • EastEnders was the 2nd most popular UK search term in 2003.
  • EastEnders was the 4th most popular UK search term in 2004.
  • EastEnders holds the record for highest rated soap episode in Britain.
  • In 2001 EastEnders went head to head with Coronation Street for the first time, EastEnders won the battle with 8.4 million viewers (41%) while Coronation Street attracted 7.3 million (36%).
  • There is a shop in Walford named Barratt's Bargain Corner, cleverly incorporating the BBC's initials.
  • Susan Tully who played Michelle Fowler has directed some episodes since leaving.
  • Madonna and Guy Ritchie are rumoured to be big fans of the show, with her favourite character being Dot Cotton.
  • George Michael, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are also fans of the soap.
  • Robbie Williams has made a cameo appearance on the telephone in the Queen Vic.
  • Before the Spice Girls, Emma Bunton was cast as a troubled youth in the soap.
  • Researchers, from the BBC, went to the East End and visited 'Fassett Square' in the 1980’s.
  • The famous double-handers when only two actors appear in an episode was originally done for speed: while they film that, the rest of the cast can be making another episode.
  • Pam St Clement (Pat) has 125 pairs of earrings from which to choose.
  • Leslie Grantham originally auditioned for the part of Pete Beale but was thought too good looking so was instead cast as Den Watts.
  • The War memorial on set features names of people involved in EastEnders along with past stars.
  • Oxfam was the main outlet used for the actors costumes when the series was first made.
  • A vocal version of the theme tune called 'Anyone can fall in Love' reached number 4 in the charts in the summer of 1986 and was sung by Anita Dobson (Angie Watts).
  • The Queen visited the set in 2001 and was shown around by actresses Wendy Richard and Barbara Windsor.
  • The roads around Albert Square are not built to scale: they look real but some can only take one car at a time.
  • When Barbara Windsor joined in 1994, she was only contracted for ten episodes.
  • Albert Square is built on the site last used for building works in the 1980s Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
  • In 1993, the show's theme tune was updated to a Jazzy version, first heard on 11 May 1993. However, it proved very unpopular with the viewers and was replaced with a remix of the original theme tune only 11 months later, from 11 April 1994.
  • EastEnders was the inaugural winner of the 1999 BAFTA for best serial.
  • Since EastEnders began in 1985, at least one of its episodes have rated higher than any other British soap opera throughout each decade. This includes the 1980's, 1990's and so far the 2000's.
  • Osymyso a.k.a Mark Nicholson, one of the UK's original bootleg artists created a track based on remixed scenes of the Pat vs Peggy showdown.


See also

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